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Rajo Laurel Met Martha Stewart And Confirmed Everything We Thought About Her: She's Amazing

Her favorite Filipino food is lechon, she's got a youthful take on life, and visiting the Philippines has always been on her travel bucket list

Kilig—you would have felt that too and more if you met American lifestyle empress Martha Stewartin the flesh, after idolizing her for more than half of your life! 

Such was the story of the fateful night when, during an intimate dinner party, fashion designer Rajo Laurel didn't simply marvel at Martha from afar, but rather, exchanged a lengthy conversation with her about anything and everything from visiting the Philippines for the first time, lechon and halo-halo, and the warmth of Filipinos that never fails to amaze. 

"I was introduced to [Martha] by our Secretary of Tourism Berna Romulo-Puyat who was seated beside her. I wanted to express how much of a fan I was and how she influenced my design and how I live my life. She was so kind, and when I told her that I made her something, she hugged me warmly. I was so kilig and grateful," Rajo recalls of the once in a lifetime experience, savoring every moment of the encounter. 

After all, he was but a teenager when he discovered Martha and her passion for entertaining, homemaking, and design and never once in his then wildest dreams would he have thought that he would, one day, be sharing a meal comprised of some of the Philippines' most beloved delicacies with her. (The magazines where he first discovered her—many of which were purchased only after much allowance-saving was done—have been hard bound to preserve them and the memories they hold).

Rajo tells Metro.Style, "I discovered her on my junior year of high school. My aunt had one of her books and one afternoon, I took a gander at the book, and from that day, I was hooked." 

He credits his lucky stars aligning to Doris Magsaysay-Ho, a tai-pan in the shipping industry and who proudly fills the roles of president and CEO of her family business Magsaysay Transport & Logistics, who organized the private gathering and helped make it all happen. 

"She also said that the home of Ms. Doris Ho is one of the most beautiful homes she has ever seen," Rajo adds. 

Recalling the experience, Rajo describes, "It’s not actually what [Martha] said but what she did. She tasted everything on the buffet table [with courses created by Chef Gilbert Pangilinan]. [She asked] a lot of questions about what the food was, where it was from, and why it was cooked and presented that way. The dinner was around 40 people, and we were all introduced to her one by one.  She was very gracious in taking all that information in." 

The observation has been consistent across all fronts, considering all the activities and people Martha have met in her brief stay in the Philippines.

She delivered a talk on leadership in partnership with ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), participated in an in-depth interview with journalist Karen Davila (one that revealed her love of rap music and that yes, she might be dating someone at 78 years old), gone on a tour of Intramuros and its surrounding sites, enjoyed a day trip to Pampanga for its culinary wonders and treasured rice paddies, took advantage of several chances to meet with successful Filipino social entrepreneurs, learned about sustainable local businesses, gone Greenhills shopping and indulged in a Pinoy-style dinner complete with lots of socializing and delicious local fare!

"She noticed how warm and friendly we were, and she told all of us how she has been waiting to come here for such a long time and she is so happy to be in the Philippines," Rajo divulges, much to the delight of his fellow Filipino fans who have looked up to Martha for so long. 

The woman who Rajo describes as tall and gracious proved to be a joy to meet, a first-hand realization that completely dispels the age-old saying that advises us to never meet our heroes lest we be disappointed in who they are, or what they're like, in person. 

In fact, getting to shake Martha's hand and more gave Rajo even more reason to love the multi-faceted septuagenarian; according to him, she exudes an aura of energy, and youth like no other.

You would have never guessed that she'll soon be entering her eighth decade of life given her vibrancy and enthusiasm that aren't only impressive, but also contagiousThe whole room absorbs Martha's positivity, and in a pretty awesome way, multiplies and reflects it. (As it turns out, there's truth to that relic of an Internet meme that compared the air of being around Martha to being enveloped by the warm, comforting smells of freshly baked pastries on a breezy summer afternoon when all is well in the world). 

Asked about the most inspiring thing about Martha, Rajo says, "I think it's the simplicity that she advocates, that you don't have to do anything over-the-top. I also love how she continuously evolves and, to this day, loves what she does. I admire her strength, tenacity, and point of view."

Tina Ocampo added flair by adding her floral arrangements to tables, and host Doris made sure to shine the spotlight on names in the local fashion scene like CelestineBea ValdesPatis Tesoro and Jewelmer by showcasing an assortment of their items in her library-turned-mini showroom. 

But as dreamy as it felt, the night was made as real as possible by Martha, a woman whose real-life persona is better than what her already sweeter-than-a-summer-peach onscreen self exudes. And even without Rajo saying it himself, we're sure that Filipinos like himself and the many others that Martha has met have made her feel the same. 

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Flowers by Tina Ocampo at Martha's private dinner

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Martha socializing with guests Rajo Laurel, Nix Alanon, and Berna Romulo-Puyat at Doris Magsaysay-Ho's home
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The beautiful home interiors that Martha complimented

Photos courtesy of Rajo Laurel